In the 1960’s, a group of Canadians working for a company that invented 5-pin bowling brought air hockey into the world. Today, the game is enjoyed all around the world. While it’s commonly found in arcades, there are a number of consumer-grade tables that allow you to bring this exciting game into your own home. With so many different types of air hockey tables on the market, it can be a challenge to find out which one is right for your family. We’ll go in-depth and help you understand the options, helping you find the best air hockey table for your home.
When it comes to good air hockey tables there are few that easily stand out. There are also some which are often overlooked but can be a great bang for the buck. This is the reason we created our own list consisted of most of the great models on the market today. Each has its own pros and cons which you can further analyze in the full sized reviews we did for each table. First, let’s take a look at our comparison chart where you will get a general idea of every model.
Best Air Hockey Tables- Comparison Chart
Our Top Models
MD Sports Air Powered Hockey Table
MD Sports delivers the type of air hockey table kids, teens, and adults can appreciate. True to the classic style and design of the air hockey tables of old, their latest model is a replica of the air hockey tables you knew and loved as a kid. The table’s arcade style design, coupled with the large smooth playing surface will give you the perfect setup for a challenging game with family and friends. Additionally, the powerful blower system and the vivid lights, graphics, and sound effects will make you feel as though you’ve gone back in time, to an age when air hockey ruled.
ESPN Air Hockey Game Table
A great full-sized table that incorporates many of the same features you’ll find on the top air hockey tables at your local arcade, this ESPN model features a variety of bells and whistles players of all skill levels can appreciate. Players will also love the built in cupholders, bright LED light scoring system, and the storage space designed to keep your strikers and pucks organized until the next game. But this table isn’t all looks. In fact, it’s incredibly durable, equipped with protective corner caps, and designed with tops rails and full panel leg supports for the ultimate pro setup.
Brunswick 7ft Air Hockey Table – Windchill
The Windchill by Brunswick is large, elegant, and designed for pro-level players who enjoy a challenging game of air hockey, in the comfort of their own home. The simple design, clean lines, and UL certified powerful blower system easily put this table in a class all its own. The table’s durability and reasonable pricing will also make potential buyers give this table a second look. Considering the full-size design, you’ll need to take careful measurements in order to ensure this table can smoothly fit into a dedicated spot in the home.
Triumph Lumen-X Lazer Air Hockey Table
If you’re not sure where to begin, the Triumph Lumen-X is a great starting point. It excels in almost every category, offering a great compromise between price and performance. It’s large enough to get the full game experience, but compact enough that most consumers will be able to find a space for it.
Quick Tip: This table is very high quality, using a laminate play surface and high quality blower motors that produce an even airflow across the whole table. When you factor in the incredibly design and unique lighting, you can be sure that this is one of the best air hockey tables for a stylish games room.
Hathaway Face Off Electronic Scoring Air Hockey Table
For consumers on a budget, you can’t go wrong with this Hathaway air hockey table. It’s one of the most compact and lightweight tables we’ve ever reviewed, making it ideal for homes that want to stash it away when not in use.
Its compact size makes it ideal for children, who might have a hard time reaching the puck on the large table. While we’re normally quite skeptical at tables this affordable, Hathaway really spent the time to create something enjoyable and worthwhile.
Viper Vancouver 7.5 Foot Air Hockey Table
Quick Tip: For the ultimate air hockey experience, check out the Viper Vancouver air hockey table. This is one of the largest tables on the market, giving you that true-to-arcade experience. It is built extremely well, approaching the same craftsmanship as a pool table.
Despite its massive airflow and tightly controlled play surface, the table is very quiet and unobtrusive while in use. This table might not be in everyone’s budget, but the level of quality offered makes it our number one choice.
The Complete Air Hockey Table Buyer’s Guide
Before you can understand what goes into a high-quality air hockey table, we first need to understand how they work. The ultimate goal is to create a frictionless surface. This allows the puck to travel at high speeds, maintaining the exact direction you hit it. When this is done well, you’d be surprised at how accurately you can direct the puck into the goal. Anyway, let’s go deeper into it all.
How Does It All Work?
There are two primary factors that determine how well a play surface works
- Surface Material
Airflow keeps the puck slightly elevated above the table, while the surface material changes the speed and direction. They are both attributes that have to create the perfect combination for a smooth game. Let’s take a closer look at each them.
The most important thing to look for is a nice smooth surface. They usually have a laminate material placed over wood, although a plastic coating can also be effective.
We often favor laminate as there is a smooth clear coat applied over all of the graphics.
If the graphics are raised, they can create areas of varying friction that slow down or redirect the puck. This isn’t easy to notice for beginners, but experienced players can find it frustrating.
If you look closely, you’ll see hundreds of tiny holes in the place surface. Air escapes through these holes to keep the puck elevated. The most well made table we’ve ever used had holes that were almost invisibly placed very closely to each other. This gives a nice even coverage, keeping the puck’s elevation consistent throughout the whole surface.
Inexpensive tables use fewer but larger holes. These still work well at high speeds, although the puck can get stuck if it’s travelling too slowly. The less holes there are, the more important the surface material becomes, so we’d usually look for a laminate in these situations.
Those motors affect how evenly the air is distributed. Most affordable air hockey tables use a single blower motor. This means that there can be more air pressure at the center of the table, and less around the edges. This can cause the puck to curve, or bounce off the sides of the table in an unexpected way.
So what does all of this mean for you?
If you’re just looking for a casual gaming experience, a single motor with a plastic surface will be fine. But if you want to develop your skill at air hockey, and play games that are more challenging, getting a high-quality surface with dual blower motors will be worthwhile.
Choosing The Perfect Air Hockey Table For You
Now that you are familiar with the basics of air hockey tables, it’s time to show you the thought-process you need to have in order to get the most out of your purchase. There are all sorts of aspects you need to pay attention to. The major ones are:
- Blower Motors
- Leg Levelers
- Scoring Methods
- Customer Service
- Power Source
We already discussed surfaces and blowing motors so let’s go deeper into the other parts of a good table.
Air hockey tables are available in all shapes and sizes. Are you looking to recreate the arcade experience? Most tables in the arcade room are sized between 6 and 7 feet.
The larger play area is great for adults, and gives you a lot more control over where the puck travels. Because the puck has to travel over a larger distance, you have a little more time to react, and can therefore execute more precise movements.
Your hands will be flying all over your end of the table, increasing the challenge and making it easier to score goals, not to mention how much more fun it all gets.
But not everyone has the space in their game room for such a large table. There are some compact models that measure as little as 5 feet diagonally. Not only are they space saving, but these compact tables are much more enjoyable for children to use.
If you are really short on space or are looking for a table that is more specific to younger kids , there are tabletop air hockey tables that can be easily played anywhere in your home. One of the more popular table top air hockey tables is the Sport Squad HX40 40 inch Hockey Table for Kids. But there are several other great kids air hockey tables available for endless hours of fun!
Materials And Durability
The durability of a table is important to consider. Air hockey tables are typically made from MDF, a wood composite material that is strong but lightweight. How strong an air hockey table isn’t dependent on the type of material use, but how it is assembled.
The most comfortable tables have a tapered design, with several supporting bars that strengthen all of the weak points. These tables are usually quite large and heavy, but can withstand aggressive play.
Of course, a commercial grade table isn’t always necessary in the home. Some cheaper models are a little more squared off. These are fine as long as you aren’t leaning on them, and can still withstand a lot of use.
There are some models which are made primarily of plastic. As long as the playing surface is made from MDF, it’s fine to have plastic legs and enclosure. These tables are very lightweight and easy to assemble, but it’s important not to lean on them too much. We usually recommend lightweight tables for children.
Quick Tip: Air hockey is a game of precision. If you want to show your opponent what you’ve got, it’s important to make sure that the table is stable and secure. We always recommend that the table has some kind of built in levelling system.
Usually these are small feet on air hockey tables that can be adjusted by rotating them. They are screwed into the bottom of the table, so turning them one way or another can raise and lower them. This allows you to use your table on an unlevel surface, without having the puck always slant in one particular direction.
For regular or aggressive games, we’d recommend a table where the legs are tapered slightly outwards. This gives the table a nice stable stance. If you lean on or bump it, it’s not going to cause the table to shift and move.
Traditionally, scoring has always been done manually with Air Hockey Tables. Due to the fast-paced nature of the game, it can be hard to keep track. Plus, you’ll often encounter a scenario where the puck is travelling so fast that it bounces right back out of the goal area. For this reason, we always recommend an air hockey table with a digital scoring system built right in. This makes the game more fun and engaging, since you won’t have to focus on keeping track.
Quick Tip: There are two different types of scoring systems out there. The most common is a simple counter. You play for as long as you want, and each goal will be tallied up. For an arcade style game, you’ll want to get a timed score keeping system. These systems give you a set game length, with whoever has the highest score at the end declared the winner. There are also other types of scoring which are included in the official air hockey rules.
Scoring is typically kept track on a single LCD screen on the side of the table, but some high-end models have a split scoring system. This faces one display at each player, making it easy to get your score at a quick glance.
We’ve given you a pretty good overview of what we look for in the table specifically, but there is one other thing you need to consider – customer service. If you need to order a replacement part, get help assembling, or address a warranty issue, the quality of customer service could make or break your experience. We only recommend air hockey tables from a company with a local presence, you can call them up and get the help you need.
Usually air hockey tables come with an AC adapter that powers everything the table has. In some models, though, the scoreboard is powered by AA or AAA batteries. We recommend getting one with an AC adapter to avoid having to change the batteries constantly.
Having an air hockey surface which looks like an ice hockey rink will surely make things far more realistic apart from looking super cool. Those type of graphics generally make the game more exciting as well.
Air Hockey Accessories
If you’ve only got the table itself, you’re not quite ready to enjoy a game! You’ll also want a set of strikers and pucks. Most companies include these with the table, although extras are always available.
Your typical striker is a small round paddle with a handle that sticks straight up. Some of the high-end strikers have a soft padded material on the bottom, so you don’t scratch up the table.
Even more advanced ones have an ergonomic handle that makes extended gameplay more comfortable. This isn’t something you’d want to write off as an ‘advanced players only’ accessory. It’s useful for anyone who wants to play for an extended period of time.
The pucks might seem like a simple item, but they can get pretty advanced. High end pucks have an extremely smooth outer ring, with a small indent that allows it to glide more smoothly over the table. Occasionally, light up pucks are used that flash when hit, adding a layer of excitement to the game.
Some users find that smaller pucks respond more precisely to motion and direction, and use these for training themselves. But we’d generally recommend sticking with the standard size.
If you’ve purchased a larger table, many consumers like to add an extra set of pucks and strikers to the mix. These will allow you to play two on two games, creating a collaborative environment.
Last but not least, is the actual price of the table.
What Will A Great Air Hockey Table Cost You?
The answer to this question depends primarily on what you want to use it for and how much are you willing to pay. If you’re looking for a simple but great lightweight hockey table for kids, there are several options that cost between $200 and $350. We find that this is the entry point for most tables, and anything cheaper tends to have some serious compromises.
In the $400 to $600 range, you’re getting into some pretty serious air hockey. Tables in this price range are usually very durable, well made, and large enough for adults to use. In this price range, you’re likely getting the best bang for your buck.
You’ll have something that provides a fun experience, can last a very long time, but won’t break the bank. This is usually the price point we’d recommend to the average consumer, who wants something reliable but doesn’t have much experience with air hockey.
Upwards of $700, you’re looking at professional grade tables. These tables usually have advanced scoring systems, multiple blower motors, and incredible build quality. These tables are best suited for serious air hockey players, as the subtle improvements to the gameplay will allow them to finely tune their skills.
Even if you are a complete beginner, you’ll find that using a table like this will allow you to catch on to the game quickly. For the competitive types, this kind of practice at home will allow you to go out and destroy every one of your competitors in the arcade.
Some Final Words
Getting the best air hockey table for you and your friends can be a challenging tasks mainly due to the abundance of models out there. With our guide we hope to help you out in this search for the ultimate table and give you some helpful insight. Either way, getting an actual air hockey table for your home is the only thing that will surely make you excited when going home from work every day!